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What The Heck Should I Cook?

Most of the diseases that land people in the hospital or cause suffering and disability are lifestyle diseases. The good news is that when it comes to reversing disease, food is more powerful than any drug. “If I had one medicine to take with me anywhere in the world to heal people it would be food,” shares Mark. Patients are often shocked to learn they can heal their illness with a change in diet. Real food contains thousands of molecules, each designed to regulate and optimize the functions of your body which includes brain chemistry, hormones, gut microbiome, much more. The problem is that too many people are confused about what to eat, many lack the resources to buy the right foods, and there are competing diet trends which are often unsustainable. “The key to a vibrant, thriving, happy, successful life, the foundation that will help us have energy, focus, and the ability to be present in our lives, starts at the end of our fork and in our kitchen,” shares Mark. Food matters in ways that go beyond personal health. Some of those ways include:

  • Promoting the consumption of whole foods which can help reverse America’s epidemic of chronic disease and end the burden it puts on our economy and government. “We can change the world we live in by eating food, not food-like substances,” shares Mark.
  • Eating the right foods can address social injustice issues, poverty, violence and educational gaps in learning and national security. For example, 70 percent of America’s military recruits are not fit to fight because of poor fitness.
  • Eating food grown in ways that restore soil and sequesters carbon can help change the world and improve the health of future generations.
  • Food brings us together – gives us a sense of connection with family and community

Dr. Hyman says, “My love affair with cooking grew out of my mother’s commitment to buying, making, and eating real food.”  His earliest food related memories were learning how to make chicken soup on Friday nights and latkes (potato pancakes) for Hanukkah. She taught him the building blocks of cooking which included how to crush garlic and peel onions. In college he continued to develop his culinary chops. He lived in a group house with seven other health minded people. They each took a turn making dinner one night a week. At mealtime, they told stories and talked about what they were learning. While breaking bread, Dr. Hyman built lasting friendships with his housemates that have lasted a lifetime. During this time, he learned how to eat well and eat real food without a lot of resources. Even in medical school with a wife and two children family dinners were a priority. It was a time to stop, cook together, eat, talk, and connect.

Today the food industry has hijacked our kitchens. Cooking is now seen as a burden or a chore so you will buy prepared or processed foods. Dr. Hyman warns you not to buy into that lie. He says, “Cooking and eating food are essential acts that make us human and connect us to what is real and important: the earth, nature, family, and community.” Cooking simple, whole foods is not as time consuming as you might think. In fact, it can take less than an hour a day.  Buying whole foods is also not as expensive as you might think. Studies show it costs only about a dollar more per day to eat real, whole food. Plus, when you consider the cost you pay for eating processed food – the harm it brings to your health, economy, climate, and environment it is easy to see that whole foods are a far less expensive choice.   

Dr. Hyman is a practicing family physician and an internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator, and advocate in the field of Functional Medicine. He has turned his passion for Functional Medicine, real food, nutrition, and wellness into activism, working to change our food system on a global scale. Through his work to change policy for the betterment of public health, Dr. Hyman has testified before the Senate Working Group on Health Care Reform on Functional Medicine. He has consulted with the surgeon general on diabetes prevention and participated in the 2009 White House Forum on Prevention and Wellness.

He is the winner of the Linus Pauling Award and the Nantucket Project Award. He received the Christian Book of the Year Award for his work on The Daniel Plan, a faith-based initiative that helped Saddleback Church collectively lose 250,000 pounds that he created with Rick Warren, Dr. Mehmet Oz, and Dr. Daniel Amen. He was also inducted into the Books for Better Life Hall of Fame with Dr. Dean Ornish and Dr. Michael Roizen. Dr. Hyman crafted and helped introduce the Take Back Your Health Act of 2009 to the United States Senate, which promotes reimbursement for lifestyle treatment of chronic disease. With Tim Ryan in 2015, he helped introduce the ENRICH Act into Congress to fund nutrition in medical education. Dr. Hyman plays a substantial role in the major 2014 film Fed Up, produced by Laurie David and Katie Couric, which addresses childhood obesity.

Food: What the Heck Should I Cook is the companion cookbook to Dr. Hyman’s bestselling book, Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? His book revolutionized the way you should view food. His cookbook presents recipes that highlight the benefits of good fats, fresh vegetables, nuts, legumes, and fresh ingredients. “Cooking is as important for your health as brushing your teeth or cutting your fingernails. Take the time to cultivate your culinary skills,” shares Dr. Hyman.  Learn how to make food that looks good, tastes good, smells good and is good for you. He finds cooking a source of joy, nourishment, connection, and exploration. Dr. Hyman challenges you to start your new year off with delicious and nutritious recipes for weight loss and lifelong health:

•    Grain-Free Lemon-Blueberry Pancakes (pg. 75)
•    Cremini Chili (pg. 141)
•    Turkey Zucchini Lasagna (pg. 170)

•    Maple Harvest Crisp (pg. 229)

Mentioned in the Video

Guest Info


Twelve-time New York Times bestselling author, latest, Food: What the Heck Should I Cook (Little Brown and Company, 2019)

Head of Strategy and Innovation for the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine

President of clinical affairs on the board of the Institute for Functional Medicine

Founder and Director of The UltraWellness Center

Host of one of the leading health podcasts, The Doctor’s Farmacy; Medical Contributor on Good Morning America and CNN

B.A. from Cornell University, and graduated from the Ottawa University School of Medicine


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